Remember When Topps Offered Easy Money? The Bowman Guarantee

And the card companies try to tell us that collecting isn't about the money. Why then would Topps offer a "price guarantee" for Bowman set collectors between 1997 and 2000. The basic premise went like this: in the years the program ran you'd send a coupon in (along with a processing fee of $5.00 - checks or money orders only, please) and you'd reserve your right to sell Topps a complete set of Bowman Baseball three years later for $125 if you so chose. The Bowman Guarantee was a genius marketing gimmick that I suspect few took advantage of.

125_Guarantee_Header

Topps was promising their rookie-laden Bowman sets would go up in value. And if they didn't, they'd pay up with their own company dollars. I think at the time that I was too lazy to take them up on the offer. I was big into building Bowman sets during this time (I didn't want to miss out on the next Andruw Jones, if you can believe it) and I wanted to register more to see what would come in the mail if I did register. Maybe the registration was in the form of a decoder ring or something of that sort.

I wasn't thinking that the my sets wouldn't actually be worth $125. They had fragile black borders, for goodness sake. Do you know how hard it was to keep those bad boys mint? I was only then getting into collecting at a bigger scale at this point, going from the world of buying packs with allowance dollars to buying boxes with my part-time job paychecks.

Although the Bowman guarantee seems like a silly idea, it is interesting. Just advertising the guarantee on packs and boxes built confidence in those of us like me who didn't want to think too much about the principles of supply and demand. "If Topps feels good enough about their base product that they'll pay me a fair sum of money if it doesn't pan out, then this must be a good product," I remember thinking. Since it was easy to buy the packs and bust a box, I was all over that. But by the time I got to the bank to get the money order to register, that was too much work to insure myself against the unthinkable -- Bowman sets wouldn't hold their value.

Wouldn't you know - today boxes can be had for far less than their original prices. Bowman Chrome debuted in 1997, the same year as the guarantee, and became the rookie set of choice for collectors. Regular old Bowman was left for low-income earners like myself and supply far exceeded demand.

The Bowman guarantee program ran from 1997 through 2000, I believe (it may have gone on a year or two later). From a strictly financial standpoint, registering and cashing in on the guarantee would have made sense. But I actually like these sets and the fun I had building them back in the day was certainly worth it.

1999 Bowman Matt Holliday (Rookie Card) (#400) BGS9.5 BGS
1999 Bowman Matt Holliday (Rookie Card) (#400) BGS9.5 BGS
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Adrian Beltre 1997 Bowman Rookie Card #194 MINT
Adrian Beltre 1997 Bowman Rookie Card #194 MINT
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2000 BOWMAN DRAFT PICKS & PROSPECTS FACTORY SEALED SET + AUTOGRAPH *INV BX
2000 BOWMAN DRAFT PICKS & PROSPECTS FACTORY SEALED SET + AUTOGRAPH *INV BX
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2000 Bowman Auto Issue Julio Zuleta  Chicago Cubs BDPA5 Cert No.0663493
2000 Bowman Auto Issue Julio Zuleta Chicago Cubs BDPA5 Cert No.0663493
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1999 Bowman's C.C. Sabathia Cleveland Indians #344 Rookie Card BGS 9 MINT
1999 Bowman's C.C. Sabathia Cleveland Indians #344 Rookie Card BGS 9 MINT
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1998 BOWMAN SERIES # 1 BASEBALL COMPLETE SET MINT - Rookies of Rollins
1998 BOWMAN SERIES # 1 BASEBALL COMPLETE SET MINT - Rookies of Rollins
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1997 Bowman Aramis Ramirez (Rookie Card) (#310) BCCG10 BCCG7
1997 Bowman Aramis Ramirez (Rookie Card) (#310) BCCG10 BCCG7
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1997 Bowman Jayson Werth (Rookie Card) (#433) BCCG10 BCCG
1997 Bowman Jayson Werth (Rookie Card) (#433) BCCG10 BCCG
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1999 Bowman Kyle Farnsworth (Rookie Card) (#409) (All 9.5 Subs) BGS9.5 BGS
1999 Bowman Kyle Farnsworth (Rookie Card) (#409) (All 9.5 Subs) BGS9.5 BGS
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1997 Bowman Baseball Roy Halladay Rookie Card # 308 Near Mint
1997 Bowman Baseball Roy Halladay Rookie Card # 308 Near Mint
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1997 Bowman Adrian Beltre ROOKIE RC #194 PSA 8 NM-MT (PWCC)
1997 Bowman Adrian Beltre ROOKIE RC #194 PSA 8 NM-MT (PWCC)
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1997 Bowman Adrian Beltre ROOKIE RC #194 PSA 9 MINT (PWCC)
1997 Bowman Adrian Beltre ROOKIE RC #194 PSA 9 MINT (PWCC)
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